Why It’s Important To Learn To Say No

Reading time: 4 minutes

Any fans of Jim Carrey in the house?

If so, then you may be familiar with the film Yes Man released all the way back in 2008. The premise of the film is that Jim Carrey’s character Carl Allen participates in a personal development session that introduces him to the true power of saying yes.

He soon discovers that his completely predictable daily routines take an exciting and dramatic turn as that powerhouse of a three letter word transforms his personal and professional life instantaneously. He begins to open up to new opportunities that he would have previously refused.

There’s a lesson about comfort zones…

However, he later finds out that, as with all things containing considerable amounts of power, they need to be used responsibly and in moderation, as his eagerness to say yes becomes detrimental.

No more spoilers. You can watch it for yourself… this is not IMDB.

However, in my opinion, whilst a good watch, it has nothing on Bruce Almighty.

Now, I am far from a betting man, but I would wager a fair amount that the majority of you reading this, will relate to this lesson. I certainly can.

“Yes” just comes easier than “No”.

As well as having all the powers of opening doors to new opportunities, as mentioned above, it is also lovely to hear when you are the recipient.

Rejection is never nice; therefore, a yes is very pleasing.

However, for the giver of the yes this is not always the case.

Saying yes to someone may provide an instant buzz of inner pride. Someone has come to you and asked for something, and you have rewarded them with the response that benefits them and leaves them smiling. But what does that yes actually do to them and to yourself?

We previously discussed the power of saying yes, and exploring beyond your comfort zones, right here on this blog and this is not a contradiction to that advice. Saying yes and doing what may feel uncomfortable is key to your development, however saying no can also occasionally be just as empowering.

There is a right time for a yes and a right time for a no, unfortunately it is the latter that we seem to know less about.

I am far from saying that you should never do anything for anyone at your own expense. However just be careful that it does not happen too often.

Below are 5 reasons why.

To Not Suffer Burnout

We all have our individual responsibilities, however we also all have the same number of hours, minutes, and seconds available to us too. Therefore, by being a serial yes giver, you may be selling yourself short.

Additionally, when we are asked to do something that may be tough for us to actually achieve with the existing commitments we have, you can feel this rising temptation to say that you can’t do it… only to then take the easy option, nod your head, and crack on with whatever you have just agreed to, plus your existing list of tasks.

This inner conflict is a sure-fire cause of tension, stress, and exhaustion.

Oh, what could have been if you had just said no.

Saying yes when you have the capability is a win-win for both parties. Saying yes when you are already snowed under is not.

Take back control of your time and effort, and don’t let yourself get lost in endless promises you have made and now have to see through.

To Not Be Seen As An ‘Easy Target’

This next reason is going to make humans sound like horrible creatures. Like manipulative beings who prey on the weak for their own personal gain.

I don’t think that is the point I am making here. At least it is not the point I am trying to make.

However, if you are always saying yes to almost everything, no matter what inconvenience it could cause you, it is highly likely that you will have more asked of you than of people that say no.

This is because you are giving the person what they want, and why would they choose to be repeatedly rejected by people when they know you will give them an easy yes.

Giving people what they want from you always feels nice too. You are leaving an interaction completely fulfilling the needs of the other party, which makes you a reliable, generous and a helpful person.

When you have the capability, be that reliable, generous, and helpful person. When you are swamped with tasks that need your immediate attention, then saying no is actually more beneficial for both sides… You can focus on your own priorities. They can focus on finding someone else to help where the task won’t be rushed and can be completed fully.

To Overcome The Fear That Telling Someone No Is Confrontational

Saying no does not need to be a confrontational affair.

It is natural to think of saying no to people and relate that to disappointment, rejection, and displeasure. Saying yes eliminates all of these.

However, it is all about how you deliver. You can be polite, whilst also holding firm.

A powerful way of avoiding any confrontation in this situation is to calmly show understanding towards the other person, and to display that you understand why they have come to you, before explaining why you are not able to help them fully this time around.

We have all had someone say no to us before, and some of the most frustrating times where that has happened has come from us not understanding why we have been rejected.

To Overcome FOMO

It is common for people to believe that if they say no to something, they are going to miss out on a positive opportunity, either because they just turned it down, or because they will not be asked in the future.

The reality is though, as long as your no is not one that leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the person asking, then there is no reason why they would not ask you again. In fact you can even say that although you don’t have the capacity to help at the moment you would love to help next time around.

Additionally, trust your judgement when contemplating whether something, whilst not completely convenient, would be worth it due to what it could bring to you, such as knowledge, experience etc.

To Take The Opportunity To Develop Others

Saying yes to someone could make you feel like you are giving them both what they want and need, however is that truly the case?

On occasion, someone may come to you with a problem, and want to hand it over entirely to you to resolve, however by saying yes, are you depriving them of a valuable learning opportunity.

In this situation, your best response would be to say no to taking on the entirety of the task, however, offer to support them to resolve it, therefore building their abilities in this area.

Not only would they appreciate your effort in supporting them, but it will also provide them with much more lasting value than your yes would have.

Now that you’ve reached the end of the blog, sit back, relax and soak in this brief recap…


Alex & The Excel Team

P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your learning & development challenges for 2021, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.






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